A few months back, I had the opportunity to perform a Jashan at a Zarathustri house. As per our tradition, I requested the adult member of the family to do Padyab Kusti and kindle Divo for Jashan, before I initiate the Jashan prayers. I was not surprised to see that gentleman accepting my suggestion, saying Ok, and then, started releasing Kusti standing right at that spot, without even doing Padyab and following related Tarikats. This elderly Parsee gentleman started reciting Kemna Mazda and released Kusti simultaneously etc. The point that I am trying to convey is majority of us are not even familiar with the Tarikats and HOW, WHEN AND WHERE TO DO A SIMPLE KUSTI PRAYER. But when some controversy arise, they won't hesitate to question the Priest asking that famous question "WHERE IT IS WRITTEN?" as if they have read all existing scriptures to understand the reference in question.
I am writing this article to educate our community in practicing the most basic prayer that each one of us is duty-bound to recite everyday in a way prescribed as per our religion. Padyab is one of the basic purificatory ritual (Padyab, Nahn, Barshnum, Riman) that we, Zarathustris are 'directed' to practice before performing Kusti prayer. My dear Zarathustris, Kusti prayer is not some ordinary composition or something that is imposed upon us or given to show our identity. Sudreh& Kusti are the divine tools (Alaats) bestowed upon us by our Prophet Paigambar Saheb Asho Zarathsutra Spitama to help us lead the spiritual life in this drujih-filled world influenced by GanaMino. In this article, I will restrict the contents to the Tarikats related to Padyab-Kusti and, leave all spiritual aspects attached to Sudreh & Kusti and Urvaan for a separate article on those issues.
It is a common sight to watch a Zarathustri initiating Kusti prayer with Kem na Mazda and releasing Kusti at the same time without even realizing the previous processes and Tarikats that one need to follow to make this powerful prayer effective for ones Urvaan and the surrounding environment. Before doing Padyab Kusti, one has to observe certain restrictions for himself/ herself as well as for the surroundings. The following conditions are the prerequisites of doing Kusti and reciting any prayers subsequently.:-
1. Practice Ashoi. Take shower and wear clean, decent clothes (preferably white). Wear Parsee cap covering half of your forehead i.e. to say, cover your hair from the front. No fashions or makeup's please. Ladies, cover your head with scarf (folded double) or use Sari Palloo but you must have your head covered under it with "Mathubanu" of scarf. If you are hair-style conscious, do your styling after performing your religious duty in morning.
2. Wash your Kusti every morning and put on clean Sudreh everyday with clean clothes.
3. Wear proper clothing i.e. to say, cover maximum amount of body with the appropriate clothing. No short pants or indecent exposure should be practiced. You are about to enter a spiritual exercise. Please respect our holy Manthras and the environment that is required to make effective presentation for your Urvaan. Maximum exposure of body is an invitation to Drujih in the surrounding atmosphere to find its resting place.
4. Wear leather slippers even if you are going to perform Kusti on the carpet or cushioned flooring. Your feet should be covered while reciting prayers. This is a form of Paiwand with Khordad Ameshspand; a Paiwand that is maintained with Ashoi. (Following para on Padyab Ritual will exlain its details).
5. Make sure that the place where you are going to recite Kusti is clean, unpolluted by any waste matter or clothing . Never do Kusti in Bathroom / Restroom.
6. Find a place near Divo or Sun (during day time) and, Divo or South direction during Aevishuthrem & Ushehn Geh. Never face an electric light.
7. Make sure, there are no non-Zarathustris present or around while you are learning from prayer cassette, somebody is personally teaching you or while doing Kusti for Farzyat and other prayers. Make sure there are no distraction-generating objects present. I am referring to phone calls, door bell, or even house members talking loudly.
8. Never ever talk or move from the place while reciting prayer.
The above prerequisites helps oneself to bring effectiveness to Avesta Manthras that are composed for Zarathustri Soul and its divine composition which affects our inside and outside environment.
Water and Taro are the two most important ingredients of practicing Ashoi in this Drujih-filled world. By the way, TARO is the unconsecrated form of Bull's Urine, which we APPLY ON BODY ONLY whereas, NIRANG is a consecrated form of bull's Urine that WE DRINK during Nahn ceremony. One can apply Taro to the exposed parts of the body while doing morning prayers (Shekashte Shekashte Shaitaan Nirang) or Kusti. In olden days when our society had access to the natural source of water, people used well (Kuvo) water for any prayer or ritual to maintain purity of this important Alaat in bringing out efficacy of Avesta Manthras. Today, we have tap water available everywhere. Not everyone of us in the metropolitan cities and western countries can access water straight from earthly source (well) to practice prayers. However, whatever is available that meets the Ashoi criteria, is appropriate to use. The only precaution one should take is the quality of water and its source. Where there is no water available, our religion also prescribes using dry sand as a cleansing / purifying agent. Now, lets learn something about Padyab Kusti and how one can practice it in daily life. Remember before doing any of the following steps, make sure you have observed proper dress code and have established environmental restrictions as stated above.
1. Take or access clean water and recite Kshnothra Ahureh Mazdao, Ashem Vohu-1. If you are having water in a jar, hold it with Paiwand or a clean cloth and first splash on the face and eyes to clear Drujih around it (Vanthvo-Frado) and then, wash your hands (exposed parts) until the finger tips. If male, first wash right hand followed by the left hand and, if female, wash left hand followed by the right hand.
2. Then gargle three times (a Barshnoom Mobed cannot swallow a single drop), and wash all exposed parts of the face three times with water.
3. If male, wash right feet first followed by the left one whereas, for female, left feet followed by the right one.
4. Wash your face and hands with a clean cloth. Do not use bath or kitchen towel please. Assume that we have followed the above steps to preserve the purity of our Aipi and gain a portion of Khoreh surrounding us. Here, if we use dirty used cloth to wipe-off the clean portions, this entire Padyab ritual is considered meaningless and ineffective.
5. Do not touch or talk to anyone or anything after this step; proceed towards the place where you are going to recite Kusti prayers. This ends Padyab Ritual.
The following steps will show you how, what, and when do you tie Kusti on your waist.
1. First, hold your Kusti with both hands from the center and fix your thumb over the belly-button (taking Paiwand) recite the entire Kem na Mazda Prayer. Unless and until you have finished this prayer you should not release your hands from the Kusti. If you are doing Kusti after bath, do not recite Kemna Mazda prayer. Start from Ahura-Mazda Khodai.
2. Now release the Kusti. Hold the center in the left hand and a feet away from it in the right hand. Hold it at your chest level. NEVER EVER MAKE ANY KNOT in the middle of the Kusti to hold its center or because it is too long. Don't even fix a loop on the side after tying it on the waist. Buy the correct size of Kusti. No excuses or compromises are permitted. Please don't make your own rules in practicing this simple prayer and, duty towards your own soul. Because by doing so you are taking away the effects of Kusti around your waist (a 'Karsh' or a spiritual circuit around your body to protect you & your spiritual elements inside your body from outside Drujih and Aherimanic elements) and your surrounding atmosphere. The only knots that you are allowed to make is that in front & back total of four knots by reciting Avesta Manthras and by following a particular trend in tying on your waist on certain words. THAT"S WHAT MAKES IT MEANINGFUL.
3. When you recite Ahura Mazda Khodai, Kshnothra Ahureh Mazdao, bow your forehead to touch Kusti in respect. Do not raise it to your forehead.
4. When you recite words Ahereman Avadeshan, Az Hama Guna., Az Aan Guna ., whip your Kusti on the side. This act signifies taking out all evil and Drujih from your surrounding Aipi.
5. While reciting word "Manashni", make one loop on the right side holding the center. Then make two more loops on the left side by reciting "Gavashne" and "Kunashni."
6. When you say word "Angareh Manyeush", release all three loops on the side (with an act of throwing at something) and tie on your waist while reciting word "Haithyavarshtam".
7. In two Yatha Ahu Vairyo, drop the ends in loop ONLY while saying word "Shyothnanaam".
8. When you recite one Ashem Vohu for the back knots, release the first end with your right hand in the loop ONLY when you recite word "Ushta" followed by the second knot and rest of the prayer which completes Ahura Mazda Khodai prayer.
9. Tie both knots ONLY on the flat portion of the Kusti. If you could not tie on the flat surface, it is the time for you to get a new longer Kusti.
10. Hold the Kusti with both hands as you did earlier while reciting Kemna Mazda with your thumb on your belly-button. Recite entire Jasa me Avangeh Mazda. This ends your Kusti prayer.
I hope these Tarikats have made some of you aware of the correct way to do Kusti everyday.
In summary, recite Kusti prayer as many times in a day as you can. Do not miss your Farzyat prayers. Never practice prayers in the presence of non-Zarathustris and Zarathustris married outside. Wash your Kusti everyday. Put on clean clothes and Sudreh everyday. Do not grow long nails; it is not only dangerous for your health but also destroys the specific composition of Kusti threading while releasing front and back knots. Even if a single thread is separated from the rest, the entire Kusti is meaningless. Females, please wear proper Sudreh of nine parts. Sudreh without Girdo and two sleeve's automatically disqualifies you to gain from three missing spiritual counterparts in Sudreh. There is no value of wearing such a Sudreh. Nowadays, sleeveless Sudreh is a fashion. Recite prayers while you are attending Jashan or any religious rituals and ceremonies. My dear Zarathustris, Sudreh & Kusti has much more to share with your material and spiritual life than you could ever imagine. Respect these golden Alaats of Zarathustri religion and make it work for your Urvaan's progression.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
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